EX MACHINA, PART ONE BY PHOENIXE
||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed
relationship, which usually involves sex.
||Established Relationship, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Action/Adventure,
||Sometime after season 3. Spoilers for Legacy, Maternal
Instinct, Crystal Skull
||Is Daniel going insane...again?
||252 Kb Originally completed June 2003 for the JD Six
Pack #2 Zine. A slightly revisted version has also been featured in the
Six Pack Reprise since May 2004, and here it is, also tweaked a bit yet
again, finally making it's debut on JD Divas New Year's Day 2006. And
Happy New Year!
damned tower had better be worth the
effort, that's all I'm saying," Jack
grumbled and glared toward crest of
the hill SG-1 was currently scaling. "Why do aliens always
have to build these 'oh so damned fascinating
we just have to check them out' buildings
on top of huge, honking hills anyway?
Frigging inconsiderate, you ask me. And exactly why
is it we find this particular structure
so damned fascinating, again?"
where the energy readings are coming
from, Sir," Carter said, tossing a
grin at Daniel trudging silently beside
her, a fondly exasperated smile pulling
at his mouth at this latest in a seemingly
unending series of complaints being
offered up by the constantly carping
man behind them.
would also seem this tower is the only
structure within the area scanned by
the UAV to have escaped the almost
total destruction of the other urban centres
on this world," Teal'c patiently explained,
his powerful strides briskly and seemingly
effortlessly devouring the difficult
ground beneath them and consequently
setting a pace at least one of his
team mates was having personal, and
far from silent issues with.
"That would seem to indicate
the structure enjoyed some sort of
protection the cities did not and that, as
well as its unique position so close to
the gate makes it worthy of
worth checking out in my book, Sir,"
Carter added. "The
tower is extremely conspicuous; it’s
sending out a regular signal, some
sort of navigational guide, or a distress
beacon, perhaps, which would certainly
have drawn attention to it, and yet
it's completely unharmed while the
cities themselves – well, the Goa'uld
didn't leave much standing, did
anyone around to tell us exactly what
happened here and save us a trip,"
"Whatever went down here,
something really pissed the Goa'uld off. They're not usually
quite so hard on the real estate."
"The degree of destruction we
have witnessed on this world is most
As a rule the Goa'uld do not
wantonly destroy structures constructed by
advanced cultures such as this one must
After they have subjugated the
population and secured the technology it
is customary for them to assimilate
and adapt the residents and their cities
to their own uses."
The Jaffa passed, taking several
strides forward before continuing. "Perhaps the planet
was razed as a retaliatory measure."
whom? For what?" Jack asked.
been thinking about that," Daniel
tossed back over his shoulder to Jack.
there were people here once, and now,
The natural assumption is of
course, the Goa'uld took them all away,
used them as slaves and hosts…wherever,
but I wonder.
I mean, like Teal'c said, if the
Goa'uld conquered this planet and
relocated the population than why destroy
Obviously they could, because they
did, but since they could, they didn't need
I agree with Teal'c the Goa'uld
don't usually destroy stuff they can use. It doesn't make
invent the wheel when you can steal
someone else's?" Jack
"So what happened here? There's definitely
more going on than meets the eye, something
that set the Goa'uld
off, but I have no idea what. But there
was something. Such
deliberate, wholesale, systematic destruction,
not only is it unusually extravagant,
it's just not their style. Like Teal'c says, they're scavengers and opportunists,
not – "
they didn't find what they were looking
for," Jack said with a shrug.
me a killjoy but it doesn't look like
much," Jack drawled as he squinted
at the featureless white silo soaring
up into the sky before them. That's exactly what
the structure they were advancing toward
reminded him of, a grain silo, except
it was gleaming white and at least
twice the height of any he'd ever seen. Oh, and the thing blinking away on the very top was different
big, anyway," he finally conceded.
Sir," Carter said, gesturing toward
the level grassy expanse between them
and the tower.
Absolutely none to the tower itself
and the terrain – even if the original
attack happened a long time ago and
the grass and weather erosion reclaimed
the blasted areas there's still no
sign there was any sort of strike
on this plateau or the tower. None whatsoever.
The ground is completely uniform and
flat. No evidence
of any blast craters or weapons fire
on the ground, and the tower doesn't
show any battle damage either.
No matter what the rest of the
planet looks like there aren't any
indications this area was fired upon at
I find that interesting.
Don't you find that interesting,
yes, Carter, as a matter of fact I
do," Jack flashed her a jaunty grin. "I just didn't want
to deprive you of the pleasure of pointing
it out to me."
is amazing," Daniel enthused. "My God, if they
had this kind of technology why didn't
they use it to protect their cities
– their planet? Why
just this one building?"
if they couldn't?" Sam offered. "We don't know anything
about the capabilities of the technology,
how exactly it functioned or how great
an area it could cover, its power consumption
requirements among other things. All of which would
have been factors dictating how and
to what extent the technology could
be used. Perhaps
using it on a planetary scale wasn't
a practical option.
Or maybe they didn't have time to
do anything more than use it to protect
this one building."
maybe what they were protecting – they
considered it more important than anything
else – themselves even."
is also a possibility DanielJackson,"
wonder what's in there," Daniel
mused, his eyes rapt and distant.
we're not gonna find out standing here,
now are we, kids," Jack pointedly
point," Daniel acknowledged with a
so glad you agree. What do you say we
combine some forward locomotion with
That is unless you want to spend
the afternoon admiring the edifice
in question from afar."
me, Sir," Carter chimed in, starting
to stride forward, Teal'c at her side. "I don't know about
you guys but I've got plans."
"Oh?" Jack perked up as
he and Daniel exchanged glances. He could see the
tone of Carter's last remark had piqued
the archaeologist's curiosity as much
as it had his own.
"Plans, Carter?" he
lightly teased. "What, gotta a hot
date or something?"
yes, Sir, as a matter of fact I do." Sam archly shot
back over her shoulder and then continued
to walk away.
"Carter! You dog!" Jack hooted. "You
"Jack!" Daniel scolded,
whacking him on the arm.
Sam sung out as Jack whacked Daniel
"Jack!" Daniel snapped again,
grabbing him by the arm. "Behave yourself!"
eyes twinkling dangerously, Jack blew
him an insouciant kiss before giving
Daniel a shove and hastening after
Sam before Daniel could recover and
I want details!" Jack
happily demanded as he closed on his 2IC.
way, Sir," Sam ignored him, grinning
come on, Carter," Jack wheedled as
Daniel caught up to them, glaring at
Jack and falling into step beside him. "Just a name."
Sam said stubbornly.
Jack suggested hopefully.
Carter, you’re no fun anymore! One
it, Sir, you're wasting your time."
"Jack!" Daniel yelled, punching
him in the arm.
teasing and good-natured violence
continued as SG-1 approached the gleaming
They were within ten feet of its
wide, open arch-shaped entranceway when
Daniel spoke again.
guys, wait up for a minute," he said. "I just thought
"Daniel?" Jack demanded, immediately
sobered by the serious tone of Daniel's
voice and the expression on his face.
so far we haven't had any problems
getting this close to the tower but
seeing as how everything we've seen,
that is, when it comes to actually
trying to go inside, well, if these
people, whoever they were went to such
great lengths to keep the Goa'uld from
destroying the tower
don't you think it's reasonable to assume
they'd be just as determined to keep them
from entering it?
If they wanted to protect whatever
is inside, that is?"
Daniel," Jack nodded. "I think that's
a damned reasonable assumption to make.
of course the protective mechanism
is still active and functioning," Sam
think it would be safer for Teal'c if
we went with assuming it is," Jack
countered, turning to Teal’c and
"Sorry big guy, but Daniel's
right. I think it would
be best if you sat this one out."
concur, O'Neill," Teal'c replied with
a solemn nod.
might not be able to go in either,
Sam," Daniel added with an apologetic
glance to the astrophysicist.
the technology is sensitive to the
presence of the symbiote I should be
fine," Sam answered, looking
longingly at the looming arch and the
shadowed interior of the tower it
not if Naquadah is what makes it go
Daniel gently added.
"We don't want you to get
hurt, either, Sam."
willing to risk it, Sir," Sam said
quickly, turning to her CO hopeful and
we don't know anything is going to
thing's batteries could be dead or
something," Jack said, waving at the
just to be on the safe side, I'll go
hung his head to hide his worried
expression from his lover. He wanted to be the first one to go in for the same reason
Jack had claimed the privilege, but
he also knew there was no way Jack
would ever let anyone, and most especially
him take any risks he wasn't prepared
to take himself.
If it wasn't safe no one would
suffer except him.
Jack was too much of a protector
to behave any other way. It was who Jack
was, a large part of the reason why
Daniel loved him, but at the same time…
be fine," Jack whispered to Daniel
as he sidled past him, gripped his
P-90 confidently and strode toward
instant Jack was in the centre
of the arch a low, muted humming sound
issued from the darkened interior of
the tower. "Well I guess that answers
he said to his apprehensive team mates
while casting a wary glance at the ceiling
He took another step and the
humming hitched up a notch.
Jack froze as a soft, diffused
cloud of sparkling bluish mist oozed out
of the walls of the arch, like liquid
light, completely enveloping his body
without obscuring him from the view of the
rest of SG-1.
"Jack?" Daniel said anxiously.
held out his arm, waggled his fingers
in the glowing mist and then smiled. "It's fine!" he
hollered and shrugged. Kinda tickles, actually."
blue, blinking miasma hung in the air
for a few more seconds and then abruptly
The interior lights of the tower
Jack peered down the newly revealed
corridor leading to a circular chamber
in the very centre of the tower. "I
guess I passed," he grinned back at
the wary faces of the trio standing
on the outside. "And
I never even studied."
like to try next, Sir," Sam eagerly
frowned and then nodded. "I don't like it,
but whatever is in here, if we're talking
alien gizmos you're probably the one
best qualified to make any sense out
of them, if there is any sense to be
made. Ah! Ah!" He admonished
sternly, forestalling her enthusiastic
plunge forward with restraining finger. "Easy, Major. Let's take this
keep an eye on her.
Carter, if you so much as hiccup
we're pulling you out.
I don't want any arguments.
Sir," Sam nodded, her CO's concern
taking the reckless edge off her
As much as she was dying to see
what was in that tower she took his point
about needing to be careful.
smiled reassuringly at the two men
flanking her and started to walk toward
the man anxiously watching her from
within the structure.
barely crossed the threshold before
the mist came quickly hissing out at
her, making a sinister, almost accusatory
sound as it rapidly issued forth and
billowed about her.
"Wow!" Sam yelped as she
was literally pushed back out
the way she had come so forcefully
she bounced off Teal'c who'd stepped
forward to reach for her the instant
she'd cried out.
"Sam!" Daniel yelled almost
the same time as Jack hollered, "Carter!"
okay, guys," Sam's assurance was
shaky and she glanced up to smile
gratefully at the huge black man steadying
her until she recovered from her
unexpected and precipitous ejection. "I'm okay. It didn't – didn't
hurt me, just – sort of – pushed me
you out, you mean," Jack said, eyeing
"Are you sure you're all
right?" he demanded, his voice laced
with concern as he carefully watched her
from his position within the tower’s
shrugged and grimaced. "Yes Sir," she unhappily
"But I guess this means I
Naquadah it is, then," Jack agreed
with an rueful expression. "And if this joint
doesn't like you I think it's pretty
much a given it'll positively hate
believe that would be a reasonable
you're definitely sitting this one out,
big guy. Daniel," Jack continued,
turning his attention to the remaining
member of the party.
"Looks like it's just you and me, kiddo."
handed the camcorder to Daniel with
a heavy sigh, making no effort to hide
her bitter disappointment at being
sure you record everything, Daniel,"
she said enviously and she knew,
will, Sam," Daniel kindly reassured
her, as disappointed for her sake as
"We won't be long," he
second that!" Jack called out from
inside the tower. "Daniel! Let's go!"
nodded, turned away from Sam and Teal'c
and walked into the arch.
instant he crossed the threshold the
mist immediately flowed out to greet
him, as it had for the two preceding
members of SG-1. Also
as it had for Jack the low non-threatening
hum accompanying the light bath similarly
to go, Daniel, it likes you.” Jack’s
tone was bantering, but his eyes were
wary as he darted his glance all about,
not taking anything for granted.
kept walking toward him, enjoying the
mildly caressing feeling of the mist
upon his skin.
It was oddly…soothing…calming,
actually…and really, really…nice…
this is cool!” Daniel started to say
when the friendly hum buzzing about
him abruptly changed, suddenly increasing
in volume and pitch at an alarming
on, what's happening?" Jack had
already entered the inner chamber and
whirled about, instantly responding
to the alarming sounds behind him,
his apprehension clearly showing on
what did you do?" Jack accusingly
demanded of his perplexed partner.
"Nothing. I didn't – I just
– " Daniel yelled over the rapidly
increasing din, his eyes anxiously
is different from what to happened
to me. Different
usually is not good.
Daniel - are you all right?
Goddamned alien technology," Jack
glared spitefully at the uncaring white
walls around him.
okay, Jack, I'm – " Daniel started
to reassure him and then stopped, his
eyes widening with disbelief.
was looking right at Jack and then Jack
was - was gone.
Just – just…wasn't there. Jack was gone, but
he wasn’t alone.
my God, what was happening here? Where was Jack and
where – where had they come
tower was full of people; crowding around
him, crushing into him, clutching at
him, grabbing, holding out imploring
hands, their voices loud and confusing
in his ears, deafening. Calling to him,
they were calling but he couldn't understand…too
many of them, there were too many so
close, frightening, confusing – too
much, it was too much – stop, please
"Daniel!" Jack howled as a
blinding wall of searing light blanked
out the entire entranceway tunnel,
completely obliterating Daniel. He was gone. Poof. Like he'd
been whited-out from existence.
The terrifying effect lasted for
only an instant but for that agonisingly
long period of uncertainty when he
couldn't see Daniel at all, it was
as if Daniel had ceased to exist, and
Jack was deathly afraid he was actually…gone.
the whiteout effect blinked off and
Jack could see everything once more. The stark walls
of the entranceway leading to the outside,
Carter and Teal'c's strained faces
peering anxiously inward from behind
the unseen barrier they could not cross,
not standing where he had been before
the frightening flash had swallowed
him up. He was
down, Daniel was down, lying in an
insensate, crumpled heap on the pristine
on a sec, Teal'c, I think he's coming
Jack. That was Jack's
groaned. His head was housing a noisy
swarm of angry bees hurling themselves
at the inside of his skull making it
painfully throb in time with the annoying
buzzing sound in his ears. He felt like crap
and he had no idea why. Wait a minute, wait,
oh yeah, he'd been with Jack, on P8X-807
about to go into the tower, he'd been
talking to Sam, before joining Jack,
yeah he remembered that but then…but
what – where –
"Jack!" Daniel cried as
he hurled himself back into full awareness,
panicked and disoriented.
Danny," Jack soothed, arresting
Daniel's abrupt and distressed upward
surge with a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Take it easy, buddy,
relax," he further counselled,
smiling reassuringly into Daniel's
confused and apprehensive eyes and
gently pushing him back down on the
grass. "No rush,
get your bearings."
– what happened?" Daniel croaked,
not finding it easy to speak because
he'd suddenly discovered his mouth
was so dry his tongue felt like sandpaper. "Why – why am I
eyes widened in astonishment as for
the first time he realised he was flat
on his back on the ground, the anxious
faces of his team mates hovering all
over his field of vision blotting out
the sky overhead while their fiercely
protective nearness hemmed him in as
got zapped, Daniel, by that weird white
light in the tower, don't you
Jack told him with an earnest
attempt at a 'no big deal, just a scratch
and by the way I wasn't going out
of my mind worrying about you' grin
not fooling either one of them.
"What?" Daniel blinked,
wishing all the banging in his head
would go away so he could hear properly,
he could have sworn Jack just said...
are you talking about, I haven't even
gone in yet, I was about to, but –
" he faltered, suddenly uncertain of
his certainty as the concern on his
companions' faces etched up a notch
in response to his protest. Even though he could swear he hadn’t been, hadn’t the
slightest recollection of being in there,
never mind of this light Jack was talking
about, the way they were staring at
him, it was true, he had been...what
But if he had, why couldn’t he
could be suffering from traumatic amnesia,
Sir," Carter abruptly said. "It's not uncommon
for accident victims to be unable to
recall the details of the incident
especially if they suffer any sort
of head trauma."
he didn't get bumped on the head he
got zapped," Jack shot back at her
as he gave Daniel's shoulder a rough
but reassuring squeeze.
his memory loss could be a result of
the exposure to the alien energy,"
"I don't know, Sir but maybe
we should find out if Daniel's memory has
been affected in any other ways."
idea," Jack nodded, turning back to
Daniel, his eyes twinkling. "Quick Daniel, what
colour are your shorts?"
off, Jack," Daniel snorted as he
closed his eyes and massaged his throbbing
forehead with the heel of his hand.
sounds all right to me," Jack
remains to be seen, O'Neill," Teal'c
gravely added, noting Daniel's pained
"Are you in distress,
no, I'm – well, maybe just a
little," Daniel conceded without
opening his eyes.
"Headache," he admitted,
pinching the bridge of his nose.
"There's this – this buzzing
in my ears but I'm sure it's noth –
wait a minute – " he asked, concerned,
finally opening his eyes and looking
immediately to Jack.
"Where are my glasses?"
"Got 'em right here,
Danny," Jack assured him, lightly patting
one of the chest pockets of his vest.
good, and thank you, now can I have
hold on to them, just to be on the
safe side," Jack said, taking Daniel
by the hand, preparing to help him
up. "You gonna
be okay going back?"
I told you I'm – what do you mean,
Daniel demanded as he sat up. "What about the
survey of the tower?
We're not finished yet.
We haven't checked it out, recorded
anything, we can't just leave."
buzzing in his head suddenly snapped
and crackled as the swarm of thwarted
bees inside his skull morphed into
psycho wasps, Daniel's alarm at Jack's
suggestion they depart immediately
sympathetically spiking with the increased
amplitude and agitation of the angry,
couldn't – he certainly couldn't.
He couldn't go with the job not
Walk away? He wasn't finished!
And he had to, he had to finish it, do something,
it was important, he
knew that, he wasn't sure what or why
but he did know it was important and he
we can and yes we are," Jack's steely,
implacable eyes belied the indulgent
smile on his face.
"In case it slipped your mind
you were attacked, Daniel, by
whatever those aliens left behind in
is kind of a strong word, don't you
think," Daniel quickly replied,
trying to swallow his panic in order to
make a frontal assault on Jack's
Jack did have one, even
though his colonel would rather eat liver
than admit it.
Usually, he could make Jack listen.
He just had to stay calm and go for
something in that place gave Carter the
heave-ho and zapped you unconscious.
That rates as an attack in my
long was I out?" Daniel
“I don't know,” Jack glared at him. “Not long, less
than a minute, I think. The point is
big deal," Daniel grinned.
Jack frowned at him.
"I'm starting to think brain
Do you not understand what just
happened here? Something in that building
knocked you out. Cold. C.O.L.D, Daniel. For a minute or
an hour or a week, makes no difference
how long you were out, you were out,
something in that place laid you out
flat and for the third time, I'd call
that an attack."
maybe it wasn't supposed to be," Daniel
if it's all the same to you, if that's the
way the folks who used to live here say
hello, I'd just as soon pass on finding
out what they do for 'pleased to meet
maybe that's exactly what they were
trying to do," Daniel ignored Jack's
increasingly irritated expression and
pressed on. "After all, you walked
through with no ill effects, right?
Maybe whatever it is was - was – I don't
know – "
maybe it let me through because the
doohickey in there protecting the place,
or whatever, needed time to get its
range," Jack flatly returned, his
mouth set in an implacable, unfriendly
"So now it's all primed and
ready to fry the next person who walks
do you always automatically assume
everyone out here is trying to kill
everyone out here usually is trying
to kill us!"
not necessarily in this instance!"
Daniel stubbornly returned.
"You're fine, right?"
me?" Jack blurted.
you just said is true – then the next
person through after me should have
been zapped as well and they weren't –
you weren't. The next person – after me, I mean
- was you. You
were already inside, you had to pass
through the arch again to get back
outside and bring me out too.
You're the one who carried me out,
it had to have been you, Sam and Teal'c
couldn't have done it, so you've walked
through a second time.
Did anything happen?"
no it didn't," Jack grudgingly admitted.
"But that doesn't mean
Daniel said triumphantly,
scrambling to his feet.
"Nothing happened to you.
That's why I'm sure it'll be safe
to go back in, I'm sure it'll be fine,
we can just go in there and check it
out and – "
knock if off you're wasting your
time," Jack snapped.
"This is a non-negotiable
the brain damage thing is looking more
and more plausible and I think getting
you back to the SGC and checked out
pronto – "
okay, whatever," Daniel threw his
hands up, exasperated. "I'll let Janet
look me over if that'll make you happy,
although I really don't think it's
necessary, I'm fine.
And then - but we are coming
back," Daniel insisted, looking to
Sam for back up.
He hadn't missed the internal
battle she'd been waging during the entire
debate, soldier versus scientist and he
was hoping the scientist would come out
swinging and weigh in on his side.
a chance," Jack grunted.
"Ah!" he warned Sam, who'd
opened her mouth to interject and then
shut it again as her CO waved an admonishing
finger in front of her face.
"I don't care what the hell is
in that place, in my opinion the potential
threat isn't worth the risk."
concur, DanielJackson," Teal'c grimly
right, Daniel," Sam finally added
unhappily. "I don't like it any better
than you, but there's no way to know
the intentions of the builders of this
place for sure or exactly what the
technology is supposed to do and is
capable of, so whatever is in there –
and we don't even know for sure if there is
anything – it's not worth risking
lives for. Especially as it has
already demonstrated it is capable of
taking aggressive action against
she said," Jack growled at him.
chaos in Daniel's head was almost as
overwhelming as his panic.
As the sound swelled into a shrill,
urgent crescendo Daniel cast desperate
eyes at the entranceway behind Jack.
He could do it; it wasn't far,
he could run for it, he'd make it and
once he was inside he could – he could
snap out of it!"
Jack yelled at him, grabbing him by
the arm and roughly shaking him. "That frigging
does it – we are so out of here!
You're seeing Frasier now!"
Jack whirled him around and gave him
a shove gate-ward the shrieking stopped,
like a balloon popping.
The cessation of both the sound and
the accompanying sense of urgent
compulsion left Daniel reeling and
And not exactly sure what had
happened in the past few minutes or why
Jack had band of steel fingers wrapped
around his upper arm and was motoring him
away from the tower at an extremely brisk
he said casting a bewildered glance back
at the tower they were swiftly striding
"What – "
done this already, Daniel," Jack
glared at the man he was all but dragging
along beside him, clenching his teeth as
he stuffed his rising concern back down
and swallowed it.
"You, zap, boom, fall down,
wake up, start talking crazy, we take you
back to the SGC so ole Doc Frasier can
check you over."
Of course! He remembered now! He'd been knocked
out by that – whatever it was in the
had he been thinking, of course
Jack was right to insist he get medical
attention, who knew what that alien energy
field had done to him, why in the world
had he been arguing with Jack about it, it
was just common sense, not to mention –
Jack was probably worried sick
about him and he wasn't helping acting
like a space case and fighting with
Jack," Daniel offered, giving the man
beside him an extremely sincere, rueful
"I guess what happened to me
in there shook me up more than I realised. Of course, you're
absolutely right, I need to have my
been saying that for years," Jack
grumbled, his tone still dripping with
affront but a faint smile quirked at the
corner of his lip.
Jack's dark eyes slid sideways,
flickering over Daniel's face, seeing the
contrition written there.
said without saying a word.
can let go of me now, I'll be coming
quietly," Daniel murmured in a low,
sultry tone he only ever used with Jack,
and then only in the bedroom.
The way Jack's eyes immediately
darted back, flaring in response, he was
getting the rest of Daniel's unspoken
message loud and clear.
okay, I don't mind hanging on if you
don't," Jack murmured.
Daniel grinned. "Sorry,"
he whispered once more after they'd
taken a few more steps.
"I know. It's okay. How's the head."
It's getting better."
can I have my glasses back, please.
I can't see."
don't need to, I'm driving.
They'll be fine with me until we
I've been wearing glasses since I was six,
I'm not going to break them."
broke a pair last week."
that's not fair, that wasn't my fault how
was I supposed to know – "
shut up and walk.
You're giving me a
sure you experienced no other effects? A brief period of
unconsciousness, a headache, ringing
in your ears and slight temporary memory
he was acting a bit over-the-top obsessed
about wanting to go back into
the damned tower again after the thing
cold-cocked him, but I guess for him
that's nothing out of the ordinary,"
Jack helpfully informed the petite
doctor before Daniel could respond.
there was nothing else," Daniel
answered her after balefully glaring at
was right, wasn't it?
What he’d told Janet, that's
all that had happened. Daniel frowned as
uncertainty tickled his awareness with
a teasing feeler – a faint reminder
there was something – something
you sure, Doctor Jackson?" Janet
asked, not missing the troubled expression
on his face.
Daniel assured her, forcing a bright
was the truth, wasn't it?
course it was.
He was almost positive…
then," Janet smiled.
"I don't see any reason to
keep you here, Daniel, you check out
just fine, you no longer seem to be
suffering any physical after effects
of the incident, basically from what
I can see you're fine."
you're cutting him loose, then?" Jack interjected
a little too quickly and eagerly.
what I said, Colonel," Janet
murmured, making a notation in Daniel's
file, her eyes deliberately averted
from the colonel's face so she wouldn't
accidentally see any betraying traces
in it about a quality of concern for
Daniel the colonel shouldn't be exhibiting
and she shouldn't know about. "Get some rest,
get a good night's sleep, and we'll
see you both in the morning," she smiled
at the man happily jumping off the
and Daniel," she added, touching him
lightly on the arm.
"The next alien building you
go into, let the Colonel go first,"
did go first!"
Jack sniffed haughtily, sweeping
Daniel away from her and swiftly out
of the infirmary, a firm hand in the
small of his back subtly taking possession
while emphatically propelling.
Jack demanded once they left the gear-up
room, having showered and changed.
Daniel blankly stared at the man loping
down the corridor at his side.
don't think you're driving, now
do you?" Jack replied, his expression
clearly conveying there was only one
right answer to the question.
well I could, but – I – I
But we took your car this morning
because my truck's in the shop. Remember?" The emphasis Jack
put on the last word and the way he
was eyeing Daniel betrayed Jack's less
than total conviction of either Daniel's
assertions or Fraiser's pronouncement
Daniel was indeed 'fine'.
Jack, I remember," Daniel muttered,
stifling a sudden pang of resentment.
– keys," Jack demanded again,
holding out his hand.
Daniel fished his car keys out of his
jacket pocket and dropped them in Jack's
"I even remember where we
Need me to prove it?" he
retorted a little meanly.
scared the crap out of me,
Daniel," Jack harshly blurted, not
repenting his attitude an iota even in
the face of Daniel's. "I thought that thing had completely disintegrated you
I couldn't see you for a second and
then – you were – "
him? That was right, for an instant,
he couldn't see Jack, he wasn't there
– and then –
fine, Jack," Daniel gave his
partner's arm a reassuring squeeze as they
entered the elevator. Jack slouched against
the back of the ascending metal box,
his arms folded across his chest, glaring
at Daniel and still simmering.
what was up with that crap after you
woke up?" Jack continued, wary and
were going on about going back into
that damned building like some kind
of nut case. It
was creepy. It was also extremely off the wall, even
I know," Daniel grimaced and absently
rubbed the back of his neck. "I just – it seemed
important at the time that we finish
– do what we went there to do. I mean, after all it was only – "
was only you potentially at risk,
is that what you're saying?" Jack belligerently
demanded, turning on Daniel, his dark
eyes angrily flaring. "Why stop there,
why don't you say 'whatever was in
that damned place as far as you were
concerned was more important than you'? What about that?" Jack snapped, jabbing
an accusing finger into Daniel's chest.
that may have been the way it sounded,
but it wasn't what I meant," Daniel
returned without conviction. "Not – not really."
Jack's eyes narrowed as he peered
suspiciously at Daniel.
"You may be fooling yourself,
Daniel, but you're not fooling me."
I was thinking along those lines…a
mad at me now," Daniel sighed,
deflating, sagging miserably into the back
corner of the elevator, his arms wrapped
around his chest.
Jack said crisply, giving the back
of Daniel's neck a brief, but reassuring
"I'm not mad, Daniel.
Huge difference. I'm becoming increasingly
concerned by this tendency you have
for – for lack of a better way of putting
it – selling yourself short. You know, considering
yourself to be not worth anyone's time
or effort for whatever reason. I don't like when
you do it, it's not true and I don't
like that you think it is. We are going
to talk about this, but – " Jack hastened
to assure Daniel as alarm flashed over
his features "
– but not tonight.
Tonight you're under doctor's
orders to rest and my plans for the
evening are to drive you home, feed you
and put you to bed."
smothered a smile and lowered his head,
not daring to look at Jack's face and
the smutty grin he knew was gloating
all over it. Though
the words Jack had just uttered could
have been innocently interpreted in
context there was plenty of filth in
the delivery leaving absolutely no
doubt in Daniel's mind what was in
he could play too.
if I'm very good will you stay long
enough to tuck me in?" Daniel coyly
murmured to his shoes.
sidled up to him before replying in
a barely audible but deeply erotic
you in, and out.
However long it takes. Could be an all
night job, you ask me. You look like you
need a lot of tuckering."
I'm hoping," Daniel happily sighed.
you're supposed to eat your food, not
play with it."
frowned at the morsel of steak he was
batting with his fork. The headache was back, not thudding and insistently painful
the way it had been before, more of
an annoying background rumble. Persistent, perpetual
and pissing him off.
It and the hissing sound in
his ears that would not go away either.
the hell was that noise, anyway, it
– hissing, that wasn't quite the right
way to describe it.
He started to listen more closely
to the sound, trying to quantify its
It was a constant droning, but it
wasn't steady, it changed, not quite
getting louder and softer, but fluctuating almost
musically, or, or like…murmuring. Okay, now that couldn't
be, but Daniel could swear, the more
closely he listened, concentrated,
he could almost hear patterns in the
sounds, it had a cadence and rhythm
like speech, spoken phrases – words…
"What?" Daniel snapped,
intensely irritated at the distraction
ruining his concentration when he'd
been so close to make sense of the
strange sounds. And
then he realised what had intruded
into his thoughts.
leaning across the dining room table,
bellowing his name at him in an effort
to get his attention. Daniel's head jerked
up as he started guiltily, realising
he'd zoned out on Jack yet again, his
gaze immediately levelling with the
anxious brown eyes
focussed on him.
sorry," he muttered, painfully aware
his cheeks were flaming. "I didn't hear –
I was thinking.
You were saying?" he finished
was wondering when you were going to
get around to actually eating that
lovely dinner I slaved over a hot barbeque
to prepare for you," Jack said
sweetly, the concern in his eyes marring
the 'just another typical night chez
O'Neill' expression he was trying to
"I think you're tortured it
long enough, don't you?"
Daniel managed a weak smile, then
speared the nearest piece of meat and
thrust it in his mouth.
He chewed through several morsels
without tasting them, enduring the
concerted focus of Jack's scrutiny during
the entire ordeal before putting down
his fork and shrugging.
sorry, but I can't – it looks great,
Jack, but I'm just not very hungry."
much worked that out on my own," Jack
replied, his concern warring with his
heroic determination not to pry or
be his usually offensively overprotective
are you sure you're all
Daniel sighed truthfully. Much too weary to
endure a session of Jack's well-meaning,
but often overwhelming solicitude. He had to escape
those all-seeing, too caring eyes. Just for a little
while, just until he got some rest,
stopped feeling so – disconnected -
and could cope again.
"It's been a busy day.
I think I'll go to bed."
Jack happily leered at him and
pushed his chair back.
"No!" Daniel blurted too
loudly, too quickly.
Jack froze in the middle of
rising from the chair, gaping at Daniel
as if he'd suddenly sprouted wings. "I mean," Daniel
began weakly, trying not to fumble
over his explanation. "I want to go
to bed. To -
to sleep. I – I have a headache."
two men stared at each other. Daniel barely avoided
cringing as Jack's eyebrows climbed.
a cliché you know, Daniel," he
finally dryly observed.
"And you know how I feel about
was looking so utterly miserable Jack
couldn't take it any more. "Oh for crying out loud," he snarled.
"Don't move!" he barked
as he finished rising and strode out of
the room, to return several moments
later with a glass of water and a bottle
He plunked the tumbler on the table
in front of Daniel, muttering under
his breath while unscrewing the cap
off the bottle of pills and tapping
a couple into the palm of his hand. Daniel silently
endured the glowering and grumbling
feeling wretched, but still totally
committed to his need to be quickly
Jack gruffly instructed, dropping the
tablets onto the table beside the glass. "Take these and
put your ass to bed." He turned his back
on Daniel and began to energetically
assemble the dishes and cutlery resting
on the table prior to removing them. "Get some sleep. I'll…clean up here
first and be along in a little while. I'll try not to
wake you when I come to bed."
Daniel said before swallowing the pills. He knew he probably
should say more, but he was so relieved
Jack was letting him get off easy. Jack was being so
good to him, really making an effort
to suppress his usually pathological
need to helpfully meddle. It was no
small feat of self-control Jack was
exercising for his sake, and the guiltily
retreating man unabashed bailing on
him was painfully aware of what a selfish
shit he was being.
he couldn't help it.
He needed – he just needed to
taken his pills like a good little
archaeologist Daniel quirked an uncertain
smile at Jack then shot to his feet
and frankly bolted.
He could feel Jack's eyes all
over him as he hastily exited the dining
room, only just restraining himself
from breaking into an actual run.
no good night kiss?" Jack whined as
Daniel rounded the corner and was
preparing to scoot down the hall to
the bedroom now he actually was out
of Jack's line of sight.
unvarnished hurt in Jack's voice drew
him up cold.
Daniel leaned against the wall,
appalled with himself.
What exactly what was he doing
Running away – from Jack?
Why had he felt it necessary to cut
him like that, to put him off, to put the
brakes on their evening – an evening he had
been looking forward to not so long
ago every bit as much as Jack assuredly
And he had been. Hey,
possible 'tuckering' activities had been paramount in
his thoughts practically the entire drive
What had happened to change that? How had he gone
from couldn't wait to get home with
Jack, being glad to be home with Jack,
wanting to be with Jack, wanting to
be naked and sweaty with Jack to not
wanting to have anything to do with
to put as much distance between them
that what he really wanted?
of course not!
And what did it matter how it
had happened, it wasn't what he wanted,
and it sure the hell wasn't
what Jack wanted, so he wasn't
gonna do it! He
was going to turn his sorry ass around
right this minute, march back in there,
throw his arms around Jack and kiss
the shit out of him.
He figured that would cover the
major part of the 'I'm sorrys' for
starters, and he was sure some other ways
of making it up to Jack would come to him
as the evening progressed.
turned, intending to immediately backtrack
to Jack when a blinding white light
exploded behind his eyes, blanketing
his mind with pain.
Gasping he staggered back, thumping into the wall, pinned
to its impassive surface by the white
fire sizzling his brain.
hurt, this hurt bad.
The roaring in his ears was almost
He had to – he had to lie down. Bed. Go to bed. Lying
down, sleeping, that would make it better. That's what he had
to do. That
was the most important thing he could
do right now. Vital to, had to, nothing else mattered…
Crap, crap, crap. When exactly
were people going to stop pooping on
his party today? Operation
'Doing Daniel' had been scrubbed so
he'd been forced to fall back on Plan
B, a fun-filled, thrilled-packed evening
of pouting, sulking and drinking, and
then that had been ruined for
him too when the damned phone had rung and
here he was, stuck chatting with Carter.
And he hadn't even managed to get
his first beer yet.
can I do for you, Carter," Jack
barked at the phone, making absolutely
no effort to modify his mood. Why should he? He was a-nnoyed. And what’s more, he was in his own damned house; he could
be as pissed off as he pleased. She was the one
who’d called him; she didn't like it
she could just –
was wondering how Daniel was feeling,
Sir," Sam shot back, completely
undaunted by his snarky salutation.
just peachy, Carter," Jack returned. "Probably sawing
logs as we speak."
that's good he's feeling better," Sam
"And I'm glad you're keeping
an eye on him."
of my job description, Carter," Jack
drawled a little too casually.
you say, Sir."
else I can do for you, Carter?" Jack
asked while fervently hoping there
I was kind of hoping to speak to Daniel,
are you sure he's asleep – "
I thought you had plans," Jack
interjected, opting for unexpected, and
hopefully unwanted interrogation as
a deterrent to further conversation. The last damned
thing he was going to do right now
was bother Daniel, especially if it
was for some weird-ass sciency thing
Carter had let herself get sucked into
and she was calling to rope Daniel
along for the ride as well.
he couldn't get any Daniel action tonight
well, she wasn't going to either. So there.
Carter had PLANS.
Or so she'd claimed. What the hell was
she doing calling up Daniel if she
had PLANS. Plans. He'd had plans,
damned good plans, and now he
had other plans, maybe not so good
as the first ones but they was better
than then getting red hot pokers thrust
into his eyes so yeah, he had plans too,
sure he did, and listening to Carter yap
didn't figure into any of them.
I do, Sir, as a matter of fact I'm
about to head out the door, I just
thought I'd take a minute to check
in with Daniel before I left."
Jack demanded, twigging on the pronoun. "Not 'we'?"
me Sir," Sam returned with a sigh. "I'll be a 'we'
later when I get there.
he coming to pick you up? Why not?"
Sir, he's not.
I'm going to pick him up because
he doesn't have a – Sir, I don't think
this is any of your business!"
Sam finished, a definite defensive
edge to her voice.
there it is, here we go, another one
pissed off at him for giving a damn. When were these
people going to learn looking out for
their best interests was his
was far too sober for this particular
Beer, it was definitely time to go
get a beer.
Carter, don't get so touchy, I'm just
looking out for you," Jack said as
he hauled himself off the couch and
commenced to haul ass towards the kitchen.
for thinking of me but I'm quite capable
of looking after myself, Colonel,"
Sam's crisp tones abraded his ear as
he started to climb the stairs to the
main level of the house.
terribly witty riposte evaporated on
the tip of his tongue as he turned
his head and saw Daniel standing at
the front door.
wide open, hand on the door-knob,
apparently in the process of opening
the door, no doubt with the intention
of leaving the house.
Jack swore into the phone.
"Sorry, Carter, can't talk
now, gotta go!"
no you don't, buddy!'
Jack muttered under his breath
as he abruptly broke the connection,
tossed the phone and dove for Daniel. He slammed against
the door, forcing it closed with his
body weight and keeping it that way
as he threw the deadbolt to prevent
any further efforts to open it by naked
archaeologists who didn't seem to realise
they were naked or if they did, didn't
seem to care and still, it would seem
definitely weren't going to get past
are you nuts?" Jack roared,
rounding on the nude man behind him.
was standing eerily still, wide-eyed
but unseeing, staring fixedly at the
door right through him like
he wasn't there.
Apparently not only completely
oblivious to his presence, but also
evidently determined to continue with
his original intention of going through
the door in his birthday suit.
this what was going on?
Daniel was sleepwalking?
Holy buckets, this was new!
And it sucked! Wherever Daniel had
acquired this latest terrifying behavioural
anomaly from Jack didn't know, didn't
care he just wanted Daniel to snap
out of it and never do it again.
you do not need to be picking
up any new weird-ass habits," Jack
groaned, grabbing the hand continuing
to stubbornly reach for the doorknob
once again, its owner seemingly blissfully
oblivious to the presence of the equally
determined and slightly freaked
obstruction he was virtually nose to nose
soon as his fingers closed around Daniel's
wrist Jack winced.
Oh crap, he wasn't exactly sure, but how did that thing
go about sleepwalkers again, it was
dangerous to touch them or just dangerous
to wake them?
Well, it wasn't like he had a lot
of choice, he wasn't going to stand
aside and let Daniel walk through that
door no matter what state of undress
he happened to be in, never mind trailing
after him waiting for him to snap out
the waking up thing?
He'd risk it.
Jack whispered as he gently took Daniel
by the arms, peering deliberately into
his empty, glassy eyes hoping to spark
some connection or recognition. Nothing. There wasn't so
much as a flicker of acknowledgement
of either Jack's presence or his touch;
Daniel stared stonily ahead at the
door, continuing to doggedly reach
for the knob around the concerned
man between him and his objective as
if he wasn't there.
don't understand," Daniel said
suddenly, unexpectedly, his eyes and face
still eerily expressionless.
was pretty certain he wasn't the one
Daniel was talking to, but it was
Come on, baby wake up.
You're scaring me here."
– I'm sorry, but I don't understand
what you want," Daniel spoke again.
does that mean?"
crap," Jack muttered as Daniel began
to softly, repeatedly reiterate the
He was in way over his head, here
and he knew it.
Daniel stubbornly refused to be
roused from this – funk – he was in
and now, here he was, repeatedly reciting
He had to snap Daniel out of it,
had to make him wake up. So, as it seemed
the gentle approach wasn't cutting
his teeth and praying he wasn't about
to do more harm than good Jack tightened
his grip on Daniel's arms and shook
him. Not gently.
Jack cried, giving Daniel another firm
"Danny, wake up!"
abruptly gasped, his eyes widening
He shuddered, his eyes blazing once
more with intelligence and awareness
as well as deep distress and confusion. His knees promptly
buckled and he would have gone straight
down to the floor but for Jack immediately
stepping into him and wrapping strong
arms around him, shoring him up and
seeking to comfort at the same time.
leaned into him, letting Jack hold
him for several seconds while he panted
and tried to reorient himself.
he murmured, convulsively clutched
the man holding him tightly. "What am I doing
here – what – oh God! They're here!"
anguished cry wrenched out of Daniel
as he unexpectedly pushed against Jack,
breaking from his consoling embrace. Jack suppressed
a horrified utterance of his own as
he watched Daniel spring away from
him, flattening himself against the
wall, his panicked gaze terrified and
bouncing all over the empty hallway
as if he was looking at something and
whatever it was, it was obviously scaring
the crap out of him.
though there was nothing where Daniel
was looking was but empty air.
They're here!" Daniel
Who's here?" Jack entreated,
trying to calm the agitated man.
"No – no don't!" Daniel moaned
as his legs gave way and he began to
slowly slide down the wall towards
the floor. Jack
took a step toward him, extending a
helpless hand Daniel ignored.
No matter what Daniel was saying
there was nothing there, nothing for him
to fight and no way to keep whatever
Daniel was so scared of away from him
because there was nothing – nothing
yet Daniel continued to react as if
He crashed to the floor immediately
slumping down on one side, rolling up
in a ball, his head tucked beneath
his sheltering arms, knees drawn up
to his chest.
he wailed, his anguished voice muffled. "Don't touch me! Don't! I can't help you - there's nothing
I can do! I
don't understand what you want.
I don't understand!"
stood over him, staring dumbly, so shocked
by Daniel's behaviour he could barely
Jesus Christ this was just like –
like when Daniel had Ma'chello's slug
inside him and he went nuts, swearing
he was seeing those dead Goould guys
who weren't there.
Oh God, not that, not again!
"Agada!" Daniel choked. "Agada!
tears it," Jack snapped as he knelt
down beside Daniel and took him in
his arms once more.
"We're getting you back to the
was lying on his back in thick, long
How odd to feel it tickling his
nose, especially when he had no idea why
he was currently anywhere involving
grass, tickling his nose or otherwise.
why he was flat on his back, for that
curious low murmuring interrupted Daniel's
confusion, prompting him to open his
eyes in order to investigate. All he could see
was an unbroken ring of figures standing
over him, completely surrounding him
looking down at him.
faces, alien faces, not the faces he
expected to see.
Lots and lots of them. And – and they were
of them, all at once but not simultaneously. That was the source
of the murmuring he'd heard, all these
people softly saying the same word,
over and over again but not in unison
so the mingling sounds of their utterances
rippled through the air, cascading
layers of sibilance, caressing and
the strange people staring down at
him insistently reiterated, their faces
pleading and heavy with the urgency
didn't know what they were saying but
he did understand need when he saw
these people were – they needed something
Daniel said to the sea of urgently
expectant faces ringing him round. "I don't understand. What do you want?"
"Agada! Agada!" The people continued to insist, pushing closer, the pitch
of their entreaties increasing, becoming
more demanding, making Daniel suddenly
apprehensive as the sheer, intimidating
weight of their expectation and need
pressed in on him.
Whoever these people were, they
were clearly desperate, swiftly becoming
careless of concealing it and whatever
they wanted, needed; they expected
him to be able to supply
he entreated as he sat up, wanting
to retreat from the unfamiliar, demanding
bodies bustling and crowding into him,
but having nowhere to go to escape
them. "I'd help
you if I could, but I don't understand."
"Sha-sa!" A strong voice cut
across the all the others battering
his senses. Instantly
the throng was silent.
Startled, Daniel looked directly
ahead to where the voice had originated
and found himself gazing up at the lean
figure of an older man.
He was similarly dressed as the
others in flowing, brightly coloured robes
and like them was extremely pale, with
an unnaturally elongated face and oversized,
Aside from the fact he was bald
Daniel wasn't exactly sure how he got
the impression the man was a more mature
representative of his race because
his smooth alien countenance didn't
show any traces of the sort of wear
and tear he was used to seeing denoting
the visage being considered had been
lived in far longer than most, and
yet there was something about him strongly
suggestive not only age, but authority. Maybe it was the
sadness in the eyes the most amazing
shade of – well, they were orange –
but that wasn't important right now,
what was - was
the suffering they harboured.
There was anguish there too, in
this man's eyes as well as in all the
others of varied and unusual hues trained
hopefully upon him. Dreadful anguish and
distress, but none were as eloquently
desolate as those of the man who carried
the responsibility for the well-being
of all these troubled people on his
obviously overburdened shoulders
people were in trouble. And this man was
he said to the man with the orange
eyes, touching his hand to his chest. "I'm Daniel."
Daniel," the man solemnly intoned,
gesturing toward him, indicating he
Daniel repeated frowning. "What is that –
is that – that's your name?”
man merely stared at him, saying nothing
but continuing to gesture.
your name, then.
Okay, Agada is something
He looked up unhappily at the man. "I'm sorry, I don't
know what you want me to do."
vaka ri shon," the man addressed the
people around him, his right arm describing
a sweeping, almost imperious outward
arc through the air.
Immediately the throng parted,
receding away from the man's outstretched
arm like a living curtain of flesh
surging back before Moses' Staff. The twin opposing
lines of bodies formed a narrow corridor,
and as Daniel gazed down the newly
created void stretching before him
he could see what the sea of people
lapping about him had formerly been
hilltop tower on P8X-807 shining serenely
in the distance.
else he could see for the first time. Just how large
the crowd surrounding
him really was. The
tower appeared to be strangely distant,
a lot farther away than it should have
been because as nearly as he could
remember, the hilltop plateau where it was
located wasn't as large as where the tower
seemed to be from where he was relative to
it now, and yet there it was, and so were
all these people.
Thousands of them, literally, a
vast and daunting human ocean flowing all
over the entire surface of the plateau
continuing unceasingly from the people
immediately clustered around him all
the way to the tower and – beyond it.
all these people! So many of them! Why were they here, what did they want – what did it all
the leader said again, firmly compelling
his attention and entreating. "Agada," he insisted,
pointing toward the tower. "Agada. Orga
want me to go – there?" Daniel asked eagerly,
searching the man's face for clues. "You want me to
– there's something you want me to
do in there?"
ro," the man nodded, smiling
encouragingly and gesturing as Daniel
slowly got to his feet, nervously glancing
at the nearest representatives of the
throng and hoping they wouldn't start
crowding in on him again now he was
Go to the tower. That's
what they wanted. He
could do that.
started to walk, his eyes fixed on the
gleaming white length of his destination. He still had no
idea why he was going there, but that
didn't seem to be as important as simply
getting there, no
matter what. He
had a long way to go, again, that didn't
seem to be quite right from what he
remembered from before, but he could
plainly see how far away the tower
was so 'right' or not, there was no
arguing with the evidence of his eyes and
it didn't matter how far away or how long
it would take, he'd just keep going until
he got there.
aja tiramon," the man said suddenly,
startling Daniel by his proximity,
as he hadn't realised the solemn alien
had been walking by his side. What
was he saying now?
nikal," the alien continued to
gravely intone as if he was issuing a set
then again he could have been commenting
on the weather, Daniel had no idea.
don't understand," Daniel regretfully
explained again, his frustration with
his inability to communicate rising
as the mystery of these people and
the situation itself gnawed at his
this was strange.
He was trying to go forward but
he wasn't moving.
It was as if he'd suddenly come
up against some sort of invisible barrier. His arms were heavy,
leaden, pressed to his sides. He struggled against
the pressure, straining to extend his
right arm forward and the resistance
was going on?
the man beside him urged. "Nisti ta ro! Agada!"
– I'm sorry, but I don't understand
what you want," Daniel retorted, not
wanting to get angry with the man,
but his expectations and insistence
were becoming annoying, as was his
own inability to make any sense of
what was going on, especially this
newest and strangest development. And then there was
that damned word again. Agada?
What did that mean?
why the hell did the alien keep repeating
blinked in surprise as his solemn escort
unexpectedly stepped swiftly in front
Bewildered, he stared into the
enigmatic orange eyes locked to his,
watching bemused as the man's mouth
crap," he said with Jack's voice. And then the world
exploded around him.
and reeling with vertiginous dread,
Daniel snapped back to full awareness
to find himself in the foyer of Jack's
house, face to face with its owner gripping him firmly
by the arms and shaking him. Daniel wasn't able
to do much more than emit a strangled
squawk of distress at the dreadfully
He didn't understand where he was,
what was going on and couldn't seem to
stop his legs from becoming gelatinous and
completely incapable of holding him up.
Jack. He'd forgotten about
Jack but the powerful arms winding
around him were all the reminder he
needed Jack was here and he wouldn't
let him down. Literally. Shuddering with
relief Daniel allowed himself to sink
gratefully into the unflagging support
Jack was providing, burying his face
in Jack's firm, warm chest while his
mind sputtered and flailed about searching
for equilibrium and some scrap of sanity.
he was okay.
He was with Jack, he was safe, he
just had to calm down and he'd be able
to figure this out.
he murmured, convulsively clutching
at his bastion and comfort. "What am I doing
here – "
"Agada!" A terrifyingly familiar
voice which couldn't possibly exist
and certainly shouldn't be here sounded
demandingly in his right ear.
and scared Daniel's head jerked up
from the sanctuary of Jack's shoulder. "What?" he blurted,
and looked into the face of what could
only be madness.
it had many faces.
Thrusting themselves brazenly
into his awareness, peering at him
from over Jack's shoulder, behind his
back, all around him, filling the foyer
behind Jack, long, pale, desperate
faces, haunting, pleading, relentlessly
couldn't be real, wasn't happening,
he couldn't be seeing this Jack – Jack
wasn't seeing this, all these people,
not really here, only him, he was the
only one oh no, oh God was he going
God! They're here!" he cried,
scrambling away from Jack and the nagging
throng crowding around him and beginning
to circumvent the barrier he'd briefly
presented, spilling around Jack like
he wasn't there, advancing toward him. Coming for him…
presence and all the comfort and assurance
he automatically provided was completely
forgotten in Daniel's unreasoning panic
to get away from the relentlessly advancing,
seemingly endless mass of people. Who weren't real,
they couldn't be, they couldn't be
here; Jack didn't seem to see them
so they weren't really there, so it
was just him and that meant he was –
he was crazy. No,
no, not again. He
wasn't going to go through this again,
not seeing weird aliens, didn't want
to, he had to make this stop happening
but they were still there, even though
he was trying hard not to see them
and they continued to flow relentlessly
around Jack, coming toward him, reaching
out, to touch, to drag him down with them
into another unwanted purgatory of
madness, isolation and suffering.
no, no, please no….
sorry, Colonel but I can't find any
physiological reason for Daniel's current
He hasn't got elevated –
dopawhatever levels - or little bumps
crawling around under his skin?"
"Dopamine. And no. Colonel,
all his tests are bang on normal, the
same as before. I
realise the behaviour you claim he
was exhibiting prior to his arrival
here was fairly alarming – "
one way of putting it," Jack snarled
at the diminutive doctor. "One minute he's
a freaking zombie trying to barge out
my front door and the next he's curled
up on the floor screaming his head
off. Then halfway
here he conks out again and nobody
can wake him up. So," Jack loomed over her, glaring. "If there's nothing
wrong with him why, then, is he in
a blasted coma?"
like Janet said, technically it isn't
a coma," Sam smoothly interceded,
stepping up to Janet's side.
his brainwaves and rapid eye movement
clearly indicate he's in normal REM
sleep," Janet crisply affirmed,
undaunted by Jack's pissy colonel
then why won't he wake up?" Jack demanded belligerently.
I really hated this whole 'it's
not really a coma' song and dance routine
the first time we played this game
after that damned glowy kid zapped
him, and I'm not liking it any better
now," Jack shot back at Janet, aware
he was on the verge of losing not only
his patience, but his self-control
as well, but not really caring.
response of the other three people in
the room fated to be the immediate
unfortunate recipients of the incipient
wrath of O'Neill was almost instantaneous.
yourself, O'Neill," Teal'c rumbled
it's not Janet's fault, and with all
due respect, getting angry isn't going
to solve anything – "
if I knew anything more I would tell
you – "
a faint voice drowsily demanded. "Wha – what's with
all the yelling?"
Jack blurted, bounding back to the
head of the bed and barely restraining
the impulse to roar his relief. "You're awake!"
"Apparently." Daniel's brave attempt
at a reassuring smile wavered. For a too brief
instant their eyes locked, concern
instantly kissing Daniel's brow as
he took in the worry Jack couldn't
help revealing, then the blue eyes
flickered away, darting all about,
becoming clouded with confusion upon
seeing where, without understanding how or
he murmured, looking back to Jack,
panic flaring in his eyes. "But we were – what
am I doing here?"
gazed up at him helplessly, his eyes
huge with his desperate need for the
reassurance he sought and desired from
no one else.
The naked 'make it better, Jack' in
Daniel's tragic face tore Jack up inside,
both because it was there, and because
he was the one Daniel
trusted and automatically looked to,
to make it right. Daniel
wanted, needed him.
most of his life Daniel had been a
traveller, coping with all the
crap fate threw at him completely alone,
stoically carrying his cargo of woe
comfortless but enduring, and not looking
for or expecting any helping hand along
Well things change, and not always
for the worst, and so they had for Daniel
when he'd met Jack O'Neill.
isolated, untouchable and inviolate
had come face to face with the indefatigable,
the inevitable and the irrepressible
and love had won. Daniel
had let him in, and he'd been changed.
Now when the bad stuff hit Daniel
didn't run away, fold in on himself, try
and beat back the bleakness all on his
He allowed himself the previously
undreamt of luxury of expectation. Now, Daniel reached
out, he expected, he needed –
what he most needed right now Jack
couldn't do for him.
Well, not the full meal deal,
the Jack O'Neill 'good for what ails
ya come into my arms, baby' special,
but he made sure Daniel understood
he meant much more than he could say
with the gentle hand he laid firmly
on his shoulder. A
simple, innocuous touch to all other
eyes, but to the only one who mattered
in that gentle, but firm gesture Jack
gave everything he was.
okay," Jack soothed, his fingers
tightening, surreptitiously stroking. "You're safe."
I'm here. I
love you. We're
gonna get through this together.
eyes briefly closed, he heaved a gentle
Jack could feel the clenched
muscles beneath his fingers relax as
Daniel let go and slid into his tacit,
utter trust of the man standing beside
He'd just been given all he needed
in order to face whatever was coming. Daniel knew he wasn't
he opened his eyes again they were glowing
with quiet, but complete faith and
"Daniel!" Sam exclaimed, not
quite succeeding in disguising her
apprehension as she sidled up to the
right side of the bed.
"How are you feeling?"
"Sam?" Daniel replied puzzled,
looking toward the sound of her voice,
realizing for the first time Jack wasn't
actually the only person in the room. "What are you –
oh wow, Sam! You
look sensational!" he exclaimed with
sincere and generous admiration after
getting his first clear look at her.
by the unexpected, enthusiastic compliment
Sam flushed with pleasure and shyly
ducked her head.
"Gee, thanks, Daniel,"
she said with a self-conscious grin. " This? Oh,
it's nothing really, just a little
something I – um – that is – I was
by her uncharacteristic, and extremely
unexpected feminine fluttering Jack
whirled to see what she was going on
about and actually looked at her. Something he hadn't
really done since she'd come tearing
into the infirmary with Teal'c right
behind her about twenty minutes after
he'd smoked in with Daniel. So he hadn't looked
at her, so what, it's not like he didn't
know what she looked like, he
saw her practically every damned day,
for crying out loud and he'd been kinda
busy at the time, what with Daniel
being out of it and all, too preoccupied
to notice what she was wearing, but
now he was looking, holy buckets, it
definitely wasn't standard issue.
was dressed to kill and in that get-up,
she didn’t need her P-90 to knock ’em
Sweet, slinky black dress, looked
like it was painted on her and those
She was wearing way more
makeup than he'd ever seen on her, in or
out of uniform, but it didn't look bad,
it looked great on her, as a matter
of fact and yeah, it was - it was pretty
damned sexy. Not
a word he usually associated with Carter,
not that she wasn't a very attractive
woman, which she was, even in standard
issue, but she usually wasn't so…girlie. She'd done something with her hair too, it was…fluffier. Softer. Looked really good. So did she.
Wow. His 2IC was a babe. Who knew?
Carter you clean up pretty good,"
Jack blurted with a surprised grin. "You've been holding
out on us."
come on guys," Carter glowered at
them, professing annoyance at the
attention but inwardly pleased they'd
"Cut it out!"
"Jack's right, you look
Oh, oh wait. You were going
out", he said softly, his face
falling as he remembered.
your evening's ruined!" Daniel continued
it's my fault. I'm sorry. You shouldn't
have – not for – you didn't have to
be silly, Daniel, of course we did,"
Sam scolded him, roughly ruffling his
hair with a fond hand. "The restaurant
will still be there tomorrow, you're
much more important.
Besides, until I knew you were
all right, how could I have enjoyed
what about your date?" Daniel insisted,
clearly not reassured he hadn't in
fact ruined her life.
smiled crookedly at him and shook her
"Believe me, Daniel, he
understands. He's used to last
minute cancellations and changes of plans
due to unforeseen circumstances.
He'll still be there tomorrow
too", she reassured him with a sunny
man who would not be would also not
be worthy of you," Teal'c informed
her smoothly, his deep rich voice flowing
generously over them carrying a subtle
current of meaning incongruent enough
to catch Jack's attention. Sam blushed again,
throwing the Jaffa a lingering sidelong
glance accompanied by an inscrutable
Teal'c," Daniel turned his contrite
eyes upon their Jaffa friend. "Look at you, you
were obviously headed out as well. I've messed up your
Whoa. Obviously. Once again Jack
got a surprise as he looked anew at
one of his kids whose presence he'd
just accepted without noticing there
were distinct changes in his
customary appearance as well.
was plain from his attire the big guy
hadn't been planning on kel no reeming
his evening away.
That is, unless he'd suddenly
developed a penchant for mediating
in a very sharp sport jacket, crisp
linen dress slacks and a black turtleneck
black, wide-brimmed Fedora he was proudly
sporting was also definitely overkill
for a fun filled evening of navel contemplation.
whatever, considering the big guy didn't
have a navel.
can pursue my planned recreational
activities for the evening another
time," Teal'c gravely informed him. "You are more important,
Daniel said with a rueful grimace. "I appreciate the
thought, really, even though I'm sure
whatever it was you had planned would
have been a lot more fun than,"
he waggled a hand at the room. "Than
hanging out in this place. You guys are the
best," he beamed at them, and then
frowned again. "But
one thing I don't understand. You're here. Not that you shouldn't
be – " he quickly amended, "if you
want to be, but what I mean is - how
did you – I mean, Jack and I were –
and you were – how did you know?"
Jack suddenly realised he'd be
wondering that very thing himself.
was on the phone with the colonel,"
Sam explained, her face becoming troubled
"He ended the call
unexpectedly, and from what he said, I got
the impression…" She paused and
patted Daniel's arm before continuing. "I called back to
see if everything was okay and when
I didn't get an answer I called Janet. She's the one who
told me the colonel had just called
her and he was bringing
you in here because you were having
some kind of…episode…"
– I was?"
Daniel murmured, paling.
Carter of course immediately informed
me of your need for us when she
was on the way," Sam shrugged.
Daniel echoed, licking his lips
distractedly as if he hadn't heard
anything else she'd said after that one
obviously troubling word.
about that!" Jack grated, becoming
irritated with the tangent the
conversation had strayed along. What Carter and
Teal'c got up to off-duty was none
of his concern, especially when he
had so many others currently being
that we've established all of our plans
for the evening have gone out the window
can we focus, here, and get back to
I think that would be a good idea,"
Janet said briskly, brushing past Jack
in order to directly address her patient. "I believe Sam asked
you something we'd all like to know
right now. How
are you feeling?"
Daniel quickly answered her, his eyes
resting briefly on her composed and
yet concerned features before darting
to Jack, seeking direction and reassurance. "I'm a little confused,
though," he admitted. "I was asleep…"
do you remember, Daniel?" Janet
does the word 'agada' mean, Daniel?"
Jack interjected, not so gently, before
Daniel could answer her.
Daniel stared at him blankly. "Um – I – I have
no idea. I've
never heard it before."
have I, DanielJackson," Teal'c
I have," Jack said.
"You were screaming it at the
top of your lungs.
Along with a lot of other stuff
that didn't make any sense."
Daniel asserted, stunned.
to!" Jack snapped back.
– I – " Daniel floundered in the
face of Jack's ruthless certainty.
shot Jack a quelling look as she placed
a calming hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Easy Daniel," she
"Let's take our time and start
at the beginning, shall we?" She paused and glared
at Jack again until he held up his
hands and took a step back.
was just trying to help," he
understand that, Sir," Janet said and
pointed meaningfully at a spot at the
foot of the bed.
"Maybe you could try doing it
from over there.
Now Daniel," she continued,
her full attention trained on the
apprehensive man lying in the bed. "Are you saying
you don't remember anything that happened
from the time you went to bed at the
colonel's house and then woke up here?"
Daniel cautiously replied. "I was having a
dream but – why?" He suddenly blurted,
becoming alarmed at the sympathetic
ring of solemn faces around him. "Did I do something
after I went to
it, isn't it?" he gulped. "It's happened again. I did something
and I don't remember doing it. What
did I do, Jack?" he finally appealed
to the man staring at him from his
current position of exile at the foot
of the bed.
Jack crossed his arms and petulantly
demanded of Janet.
"Doctor may I?" he asked, a little sarcastically.
gave him a curt nod of assent, her
assessing eyes never leaving Daniel.
went to bed," Jack started to
"About a half an hour later I
caught you trying to head out the front
You were sleepwalking,
paused, waiting for Daniel's reaction
to this much of the story before continuing.
stared at him disbelieving for a brief
moment, saw he wasn't kidding, and
then emitted a nervous laugh. "Well, that piece
of information was alarming enough
already, but I'm thinking there's more,"
he said quickly, a little too loudly,
just a shade of a tremor
in his voice.
instincts," Jack said humourlessly. "Yeah, Daniel, there's
more all right.
When I tried to snap you out of
it you went kinda…nuts." Jack sighed, shuffled
his fee unhappily and stared at his
freaked out, started yelling and screaming,"
he unhappily told him. "You kept shouting
that word. Over
Daniel murmured, pale, his eyes distant
"Honestly, I don't remember
any of this."
He finally lifted his face towards
the silent woman at his side, looking
anxiously at her for her judgment.
I be scared?" he asked quietly, the
naked honesty of his expression pleading
for an equally honest response.
I don't know," she said, giving him
exactly what he asked for. "I don't have any
explanation for your behaviour but
what I can tell you is I haven't turned
anything up in any of the tests I've
run on you that would indicate these
episodes are being caused by any sort
of abnormal brain pathology or injury.
says your tests are all normal," Jack
interjected with a lofty glance at
"There's nothing wrong with
great news I'm sure but unless all
of you are playing some weird practical
joke on me and making this whole thing
up something is causing me to
not only act this way but also to be
seemingly incapable of remembering
cringed at the bitter enunciation of
the last word.
dejectedly gnawed his bottom lip and
when he spoke again the words came
hushed and hesitant.
you think it has something to do with
what happened to me on P8X-807?" Daniel reluctantly
gave voice to the apprehension sneering
at him from the background of his thoughts.
first series of tests seemed to indicate
not," Janet explained. "Other than a traumatic
stress reaction to the incident itself
as a possible explanation for your
subsequent – episode - I still can't
find anything to indicate the exposure
to the alien technology is definitely
a causal factor, but with what has
happened since, I wouldn't discount
would I," Jack drawled sullenly.
there anything else you can tell me,
Anything else at all you can
had a headache!"
Jack burst out, excited by the
You took a couple of Tylenol for
it and went to bed."
Daniel started at the sound of the
strange word and shot an affronted
look at Jack. "I
told you I don't know what that word
means," he complained.
know what what word means?"
Jack shot back at him, confused by the
You're kidding, right."
Daniel glared at him, wondering why
he was picking now, of all times to
be obtuse. "That
I told you before I don't know what
heard you before," Jack stared right
back at him.
"And I still don't know what
it has to do with Tylenol."
Janet firmly interjected. "I think the best
thing right now is for you two," she levelled
a glance that would brook no argument
on Sam and Teal'c, "to clear out of
my infirmary and let Daniel get some
rest. Ah!" she
pointed an admonishing finger at Daniel,
silencing his incipient protest. "To be on the safe
side I'm going to keep you here overnight. I want you to rest
up and get some sleep, and if there's
any chance of you doing any more sleepwalking
I want it to be under medical supervision
so we can observe your behaviour and
make sure no harm comes to you."
makes sense," Daniel grumbled,
sinking back into the pillow. His expression was
stormy but he grudgingly conceded the
logic of Janet's directive.
you, Sir," she began, rounding
right here," Jack curtly informed
her, his expression equally unmovable. "I might not be
a trained medical professional but
I'm plenty capable of observing. I'll keep an eye on him, Doc."
wavered, and then sighed as a duel
pair of killer eyes, one pleadingly
blue, the other stubbornly dark, battered
right," she acquiesced, her eyes
sternly narrowing as she instructed both
"I'll let you stay Colonel –
if – you promise me you'll let
The goal here is for him to sleep
so we can see what, if anything will
happen when he does. You
can watch him only if you don't interfere with his
I do that?" Jack replied, the picture
suppressed a snort as she leaned over
and gave Daniel a parting kiss on the
care, Daniel," she said fondly. "We'll see you in
will indeed, DanielJackson," Teal'c
solemnly nodded. "My hopes you will
experience a restful and uneventful
you guys and me too," Daniel grinned
at them. "Have
would appear the night is still
immature," Teal'c replied, his dark
"And there is yet enough time
to engage in such pursuits. I am certain we
should be able to discover some activity
that will meet the criteria you specify. It will be easier
to do so now we have ascertained you
he said," Sam laughed. "We'll see you later
waved absently at them, barely registering
Daniel," Janet smiled. "I'll be leaving
you in the capable hands of my night
staff. Get some
sleep now and you, Colonel – "
be good," Jack vowed, flashing her
a jaunty grin. "And
so will he."
thought she'd never leave," Jack
growled as the sound of the brisk click
of Janet's heels gradually faded. "Hey," he said softly
to Daniel, parking a cheek on the side
of Daniel's bed and firmly capturing
his nearest hand.
fine," Daniel valiantly fibbed,
biting his lip to quell the almost
uncontrollable urge quaking through him
to literally throw himself into Jack's
you're not," Jack said slowly,
staring down at the hand he was gently
massaging between his own. "But I know what
will help. C'mere."
once Daniel didn't protest or worry
about whether they should or could,
Jack opened his arms and Daniel sprang
up from the bed and into the sanctuary
waiting to receive him. Jack's solid chest
was warm and comforting beneath his
cheek, Jack's familiar, masculine scent,
as necessary to him as the air he breathed
filled his senses as the Jack-laden
oxygen he'd just inhaled was squeezed
back out of his lungs again by the
powerful arms crushing him close.
Jack held him everything made sense. Even stuff as terrifying
as this. "I'm
scared," he admitted, mumbling into
here," Jack soothed.
It was all he said, but it was
all Daniel needed to know.
clutched his lover tightly, soaking
in Jack's calming, grounding strength,
trying to let his mind spiral free
of the clawing clutches of dread and
held him fast and rocked him, one of
his large, warm hands massaging his
back, and Daniel felt sleep beginning to
gently pull him down.
He gladly let it come, wanting
nothing more than to lose himself in
"What?" Daniel cried out, jolted
back into consciousness, his head jerking
up from Jack's shoulder.
For a fleeting, disorienting second
as he looked over Jack's shoulder, beyond
the bed supporting both of them –
The room around them was full of
people – scores of silent, wraithlike
figures indistinct and flickering against
the background of the antiseptic
familiarity of the infirmary.
Like a silent legion of mute
phantoms they hovered and stared.
And then disappeared.
easy," Jack murmured, cupping the nape
of Daniel's neck and exerting the gentle
pressure necessary to encourage Daniel
to return his head to the haven of
his shoulder. Shuddering,
"Go to sleep
now," Jack murmured.
"I'll hold you until you do."
striving to obey, but he wasn't sure
now if he really wanted to, he didn't
know, the formerly expected and
anticipated absolution of slumber now
seemed far less attractive and certain,
and even Jack's nearness wasn't enough to
completely exorcise the fear.
turned his head toward the sound of
the vaguely familiar voice and opened
He was in the infirmary, quiet and
dark, as it should have been for it being
the middle of the night. He was in the infirmary. Shattering relief
shuddered through him for finding himself
exactly where he should have been according
to the last thing he could remember.
was exactly where he was supposed to
was the way it was supposed to be. Everything, except
Jack. Jack was gone. Jack wasn't here but he wasn't alone.
Someone was here with him, someone who shouldn't be here,
someone he didn't know, and yet…he
looked calmly up into the kind, orange
eyes of the solemn alien standing at
the side of his bed, his mind opening,
a torrent of understanding abruptly
cleansing his consciousness of all
confusion and fear.
know you," Daniel murmured, strangely
pleased by the realisation.
we have met, Daniel," the man
benignly smiled at him.
"I am Cephus, the Avantor of my people.
"That means Keeper. You protect them.
Take care of them.
Not lead, so much as guide. It's a different
concept of leadership, not one that
sets you above or apart but makes you
more accessible, involved – oh!" he
suddenly exclaimed, his eyes widening
with wonder. "How
did I know that?"
Mitron has at last succeeded
in establishing a stable connection
between our realities," Cephus supplied
in a gentle voice.
" It is beginning the process of transferring the
information you will need in order to make
the necessary repairs, but because
you are not one of us and no longer
on Kathos, this will take time, more
time than those who have made the journey
here with you in order to try and reach
you will have left.
But we had no choice.
You and your friends are the first
compatible beings who have come to Kathos
When we realised you were leaving
before you could properly see us and
understand we had to follow, even though
we knew the consequences to those of us
who left our world, if we could not
make you understand and return with
us. We have
been waiting so long for deliverance;
we could not take the chance you would
leave us without understanding our
need, never to return."
a minute, Daniel said quickly, abruptly
sitting up and turning to the man beside
"You said 'we'?
What do you mean – ohhhh!"
Remembering. He was remembering
those people, clustered about him,
on the planet, at Jack's house, here,
in the infirmary, calling to him, asking
him to help them…
Agada. Help us. That's what
they'd been saying, over and over.
others are still here," Cephus said
with a small smile.
"They are waiting in your waking world.
Seeing so many of us distressed
you, upset you and for that we are
deeply sorry, for we truly mean you
no harm. So
as to spare you further confusion we
thought it best I should be the only
one you saw this time."
You mean - I'm not awake? I'm still asleep?"
you left our world before it could
properly prepare you the Mitron could
only reach your subconscious mind. From this distance
the temporary alterations to your mind
necessary to enable you to not only
see us but understand us as well could
only be effected while you slept. Each time you did
so it brought you a little closer to
understanding, but you have an unusually
strong and resilient mind that resists
any sort of influence, even a benign
smiled at him again, his eyes grave
has been difficult to keep you asleep
long enough for the final connection
to be made and repeatedly compelling
you to return to that state caused
you suffering, and for that we are
deeply sorry. But
it had to be done, for we were certain
when the Mitron enabled you
to see, with this would come understanding
and we hoped, your acceptance and help,
still, we are a peaceful people, Daniel,
and would do no harm to any living being,
especially one who has done us no wrong,
therefore we deeply regret the distress we
have caused you through our efforts
to reach you.
Though it is scarcely an excuse and
hardly a defence it is all
we have to offer and we pray you will
understand – there are so very many
lives at stake –"
were desperate," Daniel finished, his
mouth set in a firm, determined line,
his eyes heavy with compassion. "And that's why…"
voice trailed away as he tried to mentally
sift through what he was hearing and
simultaneously 'knowing'. "No one else can
see you but me, and the only reason
I can see you is
because of what your Mitron has
been doing to me since it zapped me on the
You're not really here, are
you?" he blurted, astonished.
Daniel, we no longer inhabit the same
reality you do.
However, we wish very much to be
as you are, as we were once more, but
cannot, unless you help us. We beg you to help
us, to let the Mitron teach
you how to do this, and to return to
our world to restore the rest of my
people. If you
would do this – their salvation is
worth dying for," Cephus finished with
a sad smile.
Daniel replied, alarmed. "Who – who's dying?
am, Daniel, we all are. All of us who made
the journey through the gate with you
travelled to this distant world in
order to give the Mitron the energy
it needed to be able to continue to change
Without our many minds to draw upon
the Mitron would not have been able
to span the vast distance and continue to
change you but as it does so, it cannot
also continue to protect and support
our life forces in this limbo state
so far away from its influence. Unless we return
to our world and the Mitron very
soon we will simply cease to be, no
longer capable of existing even as
the twilight, phantom beings we have
if the loss of a few ensures the salvation
of so many, many others…"
paused, tilted his head to one side
and studied Daniel's upturned, earnest
face with wisely discerning eyes. "I think this is
logic you would not dispute, and have
some experience of."
one is going to die," Daniel
stubbornly asserted. "Not
if I have anything to say about it.
But I need to know – tell me what
happened," he gently demanded.
I told you before, we are a peaceful
people, Daniel," Cephus resumed. "All life is sacred
to us, even that of ones who would
Goa'uld," Daniel bit out stonily.
not any less deserving of life even
if they chose to use their gifts
unwisely," Cephus gently scolded.
I won't debate that point of morality
with you, let's just say I don't share
your opinion and leave it at that,"
Daniel said once more after taking
a moment to swallow the sudden flare
of rage erupting at the mere mention
of the hated name.
reverence all life is our way, Daniel,
and we cannot depart from it for any
reason, even to save ourselves. Nor will we ally
ourselves with any beings who walk
in the ways of death and destruction. Still, this does
not mean we are willing to passively
lay down our existence or sacrifice
it to the whims of those seeking to
subjugate or destroy us.
We will defend ourselves, but in a
way that does no harm, and have evolved
the technological means to be able to
protect ourselves effectively without
compromising our principles and
is what you did when the Goa'uld
came," Daniel murmured, listening
"You didn't fight them."
we did not," Cephus nodded. "That is not our
way. 'The Goa'uld
are not the only malignantly predatory
species in the galaxy, there are others,
and we were aware the possibility always
existed one or more of them would attack
us, therefore we prepared for that
eventuality, and when they did come
for us, we were ready."
didn't you just evacuate through the
is of course, an option," Cephus
"If you are unable to safely
stand your ground, fleeing is a viable
form of self preservation.
Of course, employing it will
also probably eventually mean you will
have to continue running as soon as
those who pursue you discover you once
more. We did
not wish to run, and in any case, there
were far too many of us.
Even though our planetary warning
system alerted us to the imminent arrival
of the Goa'uld invasion force in plenty of
time to be able to implement our plan to
preserve our citizens well in advance of
the Goa'uld's arrival it would not
have been enough time to evacuate all
of our people through the gate."
tower," Daniel said.
"And the Mitron. That was our defence. As your female friend
surmised, although we did have the
rho-field capable of neutralizing all
forms of weaponry within it and of
absorbing all attacks against it from
the outside, it was not possible to
employ it on a planet-wide scale. A rho-field large
enough to encompass our entire world
would have required the equivalent
of a small sun to power it, and it
was not necessary to expend our resources
on such an extravagant scale when we
only required the rho-field to be large
enough to protect the tower – and the
we learned the Goa'uld had entered
our solar system we stripped our cities
bare of any technology or resources
they could have scavenged and hid all
of it in several underground vaults
located deep beneath the planet's surface,
far beyond the range of their ring
devices and only accessible through
a single transport device located in
was also protected."
then you hid yourselves!"
so," Cephus sadly smiled. "You cannot harm
what you cannot touch. We built the Mitron to enable us to remove ourselves
from this reality and therefore be
beyond the reach or influence of any
invader or enemy.
When the Goa'uld arrived the Mitron
allowed every living creature on this
world to avoid harm at the their hands by
placing us in a reality adjacent to the
one the Goa'uld inhabited, slightly out of
phase with it so we were rendered in
effect, incorporeal and invisible to
Thus we escaped them, and so when
they came for us, we were not there,
although in truth, we had never left
"No wonder the Goa'uld went
insane and decimated your cities. They came all that
way and didn't get a damned thing for
their troubles. No
technology, no hosts to harvest, nothing
to exploit. All you left them were
a bunch of empty buildings."
was of little importance to us. Buildings can be
replaced," Cephus shrugged. "Lives cannot. We
welcomed their rage and the ensuing
orgy of destruction.
If they expended their anger
on our empty cities and in so doing
assured themselves there was truly
nothing of value remaining on our world,
they would not return. Once they had departed
we would have been free to return to
corporeal being, to reclaim our world
and rebuild, and to continue to exist
in peace without having to worry about
a future when they would return to
harass us once more.
it would have been," Cephus said
slowly, his eyes haunted. "So it should have
been. But alas,
it was not so."
oh," Daniel cringed.
"This is where it starts
getting bad, right?
I presume the Mitron wasn't
just supposed to phase you out, it
was also supposed to phase you back
in when the Goa'uld had gone and the
coast was clear.
So why didn't it?"
was a malfunction," Cephus grimly
"We are still not sure exactly
how it occurred.
The aerial bombardment of the tower
the rho-field was called upon to repel
was much more formidable than we expected. We think the amount
of power the rho-field was forced to
divert to protect the tower damaged
the sensory grid. For
whatever reason, when the Goa'uld finally
departed and it was safe the detectors
did not transmit that fact to the Mitron,
thereby activating the rephrasing program
and returning us to a corporeal state."
the machine thinks the Goa'uld are still
here, and it still needs to keep you
phased in order to protect you."
Daniel," Cephus said, sadly.
so, all this time, you've been trapped
– you stayed just the way you are now. Out of phase and
unable to do anything about it."
Daniel," Cephus softly repeated. "We were able to
see where the malfunction had occurred,
but because we could not touch the
machine we were unable to repair it."
couldn't touch it.
So you couldn't fix it. So you've been this
way – ever since?"
Daniel shuddered. "How – how
long?" he faltered.
are not sure," Cephus sighed. "We think – many
thousand of your years. The Mitron
continues to function, 'protecting'
us, maintaining our existence in this
artificial void it created for us which
allows us to look at our world, to
watch it pass us by, but we cannot
touch it. Taste
it, feel it. Exist within it.
We have been forced to endure an
eternity of formless, impotent existence.
Alive but not living. Unable to escape,
to change, to evolve, to interact with
each other as flesh and blood beings – Daniel as long
as it continues to function we cannot
even die. You
cannot begin to imagine the agony of
you're wrong there," Daniel shuddered
once more as an unwelcome memory of
his time 'haunting' the SCG reared
up and went 'boo' at him. "I've kinda been there once myself.
Not very long ago, actually. Fortunately we figured
out how to get me back."
have been subjected to a similar type
of technology in the past?" Cephus
looked at him with renewed interest.
actually both Jack and I were. He was only phased
for a few minutes, but for me, it was
a heck of a lot longer. For awhile it was
looking like it was going to be forever. Fortunately for
me, though, not,” Daniel shrugged.
is undoubtedly why, of the two of you
the Mitron evaluated, you were
the one it selected,” Cephas mused. “Aside from the
fact your friend seems to have a more
rigid and inflexible mind making him
an unsuitable candidate."
"Don't let Jack hear you say
I'm sorry!" he immediately
offered with an apologetic grimace when he
realised what he'd said.
"That was a stupid thing to
I'm really sorry, it's just – I'm
– I'm – " he shrugged helplessly. "This is a lot to
take in. But
I'm okay, I'm – so your machine malfunctioned
and you're stuck. I
presume you anticipated the possibility
something like this could occur and
had a contingency plan and that's where
I come in."
are correct," Cephus nodded. "In the event the
rephrasing sequence failed to initiate
the Mitron was programmed to
transmit a call for assistance which
could only be received by our allies,
members of the galactic community who
have achieved a comparable level of
technology and who share our philosophy. We have a few friends out there," Cephus sadly smiled. "Or at least, we
flashing light on the top of the
tower," Daniel said excitedly. "You were sending
out an SOS.
Sam was right about that too. She'll be pleased
to know that."
His elation abruptly vanished as
he saw the desolation in Cephus' eyes.
one has come, have they?"
"None of those we
have called to. And
no species that has proven to have
a brain compatible enough with the Mitron
for it to have attempted contact.
In all this time you have been the
That is why we are willing to risk
all, even our own extinction, in order
to persuade you to return to Kathos
and allow the Mitron to continue
to instruct you as to how to repair
it so the rest of our people may live
once more. Will
you help us?" Cephus
course," Daniel assured him. "You don't even
have to ask, but unfortunately it's
not that simple. I'd
go back to Kathos in a heartbeat but
whether I can or not - it's
not up to me. Unfortunately
I'm not the one who gets to make the
final decision in that regard and I
hate to tell you this, but I might
not be allowed to go back through the
if the general thinks I'm nuts. Again," he finished bitterly.
would your people doubt your word?"
Cephus asked, genuinely startled by
God," Daniel sighed, wearily rubbing
"Long story, really long,
let's just say I don't have a very good
track record when it comes to being
believed about stuff only I can see and
Or have seen.
Or experienced. Or
know about, but I can't prove. God," he sighed again,
burying his face in his hands.
"I wish it had picked
Sam at least doesn't have the whole
'Daniel is a flake, pay him no mind' thing
going for her."
He raised his head from his hands
to beam a tragically sorrowful look at
"You'd have had a much better
shot at saving your people if you'd gone
I'm really sorry, but I don't know
if they'll believe me and let me
must," Cephus replied, his face
"We must find a way to save my
try to make them understand," Daniel
fervently vowed. "I
swear I'll try my damnedest. But as long as it's only
me…I don't know if only my word is
going to be enough."
must find a way to persuade them we
are real," Cephus said grimly.
open to suggestions," Daniel
muttered, his mind racing.
"But neither one of us are going to go anywhere until
I wake up.
You say this 'connection' the Mitron
needed to make with my brain has
been – um – made.
When I wake up I'll still be
able to hear you and see you as clearly
as I can right now?
And I won't forget we had this
" You will be able to see and
hear us, and you will not forget. The
final connection the Mitron has
made will allow the sensory alterations
and the information it is supplying
to you to cross into and exist in your
This was not possible before, that
is why you had no memory of what you
experienced while you were asleep once
you awakened and crossed over into
This would have happened sooner
if you'd remained on Kathos. But when you do
go back the Mitron will temporarily
place all the information within your
brain necessary for you to be able
to secure the replacement component
and effect the repair. You will then be
able to reactivate the machine and
it will restore us."
this isn't going to hurt me in any
"Has your Doctor not already
explained to you the Mitron's energy
has had no effect on the physiological
structures of your brain? Nor will
it on any level your medical technology
is capable of recording. Not only are the
temporary alterations completely harmless
and undetectable by your technology
but the Mitron functions in
a way you are yet incapable of imagining
or understanding. I
give you my word, however, you will
suffer no harm."
you," Daniel beamed at him. "I'd
take the risk regardless, but as I told
you before, it's not up to me. If I can assure
the general there's no risk to me or
anyone else, well, that'll make it
just that much easier to convince him
to let me go. How
much time do you have before you –
" Daniel faltered over the words, waving
his hand to indicate what he did not
wish to give voice to.
that the Mitron is transmitting
information, in less than one of your
hours those of us who have left Kathos
will cease to exist," Cephus told him
I'd better stop wasting time and wake
up so we can get going," Daniel
announced, lying back down on the bed.
blinked and suddenly Cephus was no longer
The infirmary was crowed again with
a host of alien figures filling every
available space, the faces clustered
close to the bed looking kindly down
at him shining with hope and gratitude.
know you will save us, Daniel,"
Cephus told him with a grateful smile.
He was awake.
to Part Two
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